Asian Migration to the Gulf States in the Twenty-first Century

  • Françoise De Bel-Air


This chapter draws a general demographic picture of migration to the six Gulf countries, with an emphasis on Asian migrants. Following the introduction, Sect. 2 assesses the link between oil prices, economic growth, and labor needs. Section 3 highlights the political underpinnings of the national composition of migration flow to the region, until present day. Section 4 examines some economic and socio-political challenges to reforming the kafala (sponsorship) system. Using the most recent receiving countries’ statistics, Sect. 5 describes Asian communities in the various Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States, their size, national composition, and most salient characteristics as of the mid-2010s. The conclusion assesses possible future trends for Asian migration to the GCC region, in the light of latest economic developments and the post-Arab uprisings’ political context.


Migration Gulf States Asian migrants Migration policy Migration politics Oil Political demography Demographic imbalance Sponsorship Migrant rights Labor camp Arab uprisings Amnesty Irregular labor Economic crisis Public policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Françoise De Bel-Air
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Gulf Research CentreCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Gulf Research CentreGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.European University InstituteFlorenceItaly

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